The Black Keys is an American rock duo that was formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001. The group consists of Dan Auerbach (guitar, vocals) and Patrick Carney (drums). The group began as an independent act founded after the duo dropped out of college, and they eventually emerged among a second wave of popular garage rock revival artists from the 2000s. Through October 2011, The Black Keys had sold over 2 million albums in the United States.
Their debut album, The Big Come Up (2002), was recorded in Carney's basement and forged their raw blues rock sound. Over the next decade, The Black Keys built an underground fan-base through near-constant touring of small clubs, frequent album releases, and extensive licensing of their songs. In 2006, the band signed with Nonesuch Records and began to receive bookings for large music festivals. The duo released Attack & Release in 2008, their first album produced by Danger Mouse, a frequent collaborator of the band. Their commercial breakthrough came in 2010 with Brothers, which along with its popular single "Tighten Up", won three Grammy Awards. Their 2011 follow-up El Camino received strong reviews and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, leading to the first arena concert tour of the band's career.
Guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney first met when they were 8 or 9 years old while living in the same neighborhood of Akron, Ohio. While attending Firestone High School, they became friends, though they were part of different crowds (Auerbach was captain of the high school soccer team, while Carney was a social outcast). Encouraged by their younger brothers, the duo jammed together, as Auerbach was learning guitar at the time and Carney owned a four-track recorder and a drum set. After graduating, both briefly attended University of Akron before dropping out. Auerbach attempted to make a living from performing at small bars in town, but realized he would not be able to book shows in other cities without a demo. To record one, he asked for the help of Carney, who agreed to provide the recording equipment and allow his basement to be used, while Auerbach would recruit the other musicians. However, none of Auerbach's backing band showed up on the recording date, as they would "rather get stoned and play video games than come to rehearsal". Instead, Carney and Auerbach jammed, eventually leading to the duo forming a band and recording a six-song demo consisting of "old blues rip-offs and words made up on the spot". After soliciting the demo to a dozen record labels, they received and accepted an offer from Alive, a small indie label in Los Angeles.
According to an interview on NPR's Fresh Air, the group's name "The Black Keys" came from a schizophrenic artist named Alfred McMoore that the pair knew; he would leave incoherent messages on their answering machines referring to their fathers as "black keys" such as "D flat" when he was upset with them. The band's debut album, The Big Come Up, was recorded entirely in Carney's basement on an 8-track tape recorder in lo-fi and was released in 2002. The album, a mix of eight original tracks and five cover songs, forged a raw blues rock sound for the group; the covers included tracks originally by blues musicians Muddy Waters, Junior Kimbrough, and R. L. Burnside. Two singles, covers of the traditional blues standard "Leavin' Trunk" and The Beatles' song "She Said, She Said", were released as an EP. The track "I'll Be Your Man" would later be used as the theme song for the HBO series Hung. Although the record sold poorly, it gained a cult following and attracted attention from critics, eventually landing the group a record deal with Fat Possum Records. The duo played their first live show at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom and Tavern to an audience of about 25 people.
Gold on the Ceiling
Howlin' For You
Live Performance Videos
Live at Abbey Road 2009
Live at Coachella 2011 (50 mins)